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Last tended Jan 05, 2021

A growing collection of all my favourite Neologisms.

These are freshly coined words or phrases inching their way into common usage, but not fully mainstream yet. Neologisms emerge when we are unable to express or conveniently refer to an emerging collective idea or experience.

They're acts of creativity as we fill the gap between our symbolic understanding of the world and our documented language.

Brahmin Left

"The “left” has become the party of the intellectual elite (Brahmin left), while the “right” can be viewed as the party of the business elite (Merchant right). In India’s traditional caste system, upper castes were divided into Brahmins (priests, intellectuals) and Kshatryas/Vaishyas (warriors, merchants, tradesmen). To some extent the modern political conflict seems to follow this division."

From Thomas Piketty

Cargo Cult Programming

Ritualistic inclusion of code into a programme without fully understanding why it needs to be included.

The term is a riff off the anthropological concept of Cargo Cults - a phenomenon in early 20th century Melanesian communities where people began to perform religious-like rituals hoping to summon modern technological goods.

They were often island communities who had previously been brought cargo-loads of foreign supplies by European colonisers.

In times of short-supply, communities would build symbolic totems like airplane runways, steamship docks, warehouses, and radio masts out of timer and straw. In the hopes of attracting the airplanes and ships that had once showed up with excesses of material wealth onboard.

Digital Prepper

Riffing off doomsday preppers, people who have seen so many centralised services shut down, they default to Open Source Software to prevent losing their data and system setups.


The proudly self-applied moniker of Chapo Trap House hosts and listeners - "downwardly mobile, disappointing male offspring of complacent baby boomers"

From n+1's Professional-Managerial Chasm


When someone reaches the tipping point of researching too much about the reality of our climate breakdown situation, and can now no longer function as a normal person in society.

The climate crisis version of Redpilling, Blackpilling, etc.

Hospice Mode

The stage your when your phone / fitness tracker / laptop is in its final months and you're just prolonging its death through a series of coping techniques. Carrying around extra battery packs. Patiently giving it 10 minutes to restart. Resetting the system at regular intervals. Just give up.

Glamour Toil

Displaying the social status marker of toiling so hard it's glamorous. You rise, grind, and hustle every day of the week. And only take breaks to watch Gary Vaynerchuck's motivational clips while chugging bulletproof coffee. A variety of Hustle Porn.

See also, Total Work


“The braiding together of irony and sincerity (honesty) in a unified aesthetic expression.” - Greg Dember

From Anne-Laure Le Cunff's An introduction to metamodernism


Panel made up entirely of men. Usually honouring work done entirely by other men.


Having epistemological awareness of how you know what you know, how much you know about it, and how much you should defer to experts instead of your own judgement.

We should all aim for at least mediocre metarationality.


Vanilla, bland, flavourless Normie behaviour.

Someone might be Milquetoast if the primary features of their personality centre around liking avocados, watching Game of Thrones, and "travel"


The new Feudalist system we all rely upon for online security. No single person or company can defend themselves against hackers, attackers and trolls without aligning themselves with one of the monolithic fortresses (Apple, Facebook, Google, or Microsoft). We hide behind their enormous cybersecurity teams. We're required to live within their walls and tolerate whatever surveillance suits their business model. It's feudalism, with likes.

From Cory Doctorow's Neofeudalism and the Digital Manor


Named for Steven Pinker - a common phenomenon among do-gooder elites who cite the long arc of human history in order to downplay and minimise any immediate suffering.

Another variety is Economic Pinkering which justifies any economic concerns by simply citing how many Chinese people have been lifted into the middle class.

From Anand Giridharadas' Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

Privacy Veganism

Unnecessarily shaming people who aren't willing to delete their Facebook account when it’s a functional necessity in their social context


It's about them. And we all know it's about them. But you're not going to tag them or address them directly. The ultimate expression of digital passive aggression.

Theoretical Graffitiability

The degree to which an academic theory can be captured in graffiti in public space. I coined this one after someone posted a photo of the futures cone in spray paint.

Vegan Tourist

Temporary visitors in the land of Veganism. The person who just watched Cowspiracy on Netflix last week and now is all in. Often gone within a month or two.

Yak Shaving

Embarking on a sequence of nested tasks to accomplish a goal, where each step seems logical and necessary in the moment, but becomes less and less linked to the original goal.

You set out to fix a broken image in your code, which leads to refactoring the image rendering function, which requires updating your npm packages, but first you need to plan this all out in Jira, and then install the latest version of Adobe Flash, and on and on in seemingly logical sequence until you find yourself in a zoo... shaving a yak.

Originally coined by Carlin J. Vieri


Unsurprisingly unlucky conditions

From Plot Economics by Venkat Rao


Dumping someone over Zoom. An unfortunate necessity in the life and times of COVID-19. Possibly due to a lack of Zex.

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Maggie Appleton © 2021